North American Association of Sales Engineers

North American Association of Sales Engineers

European Association of Sales Engineers

Navigating the Icebergs of the Pending 2023 Economy

There is quite a lot of troubling news and numbers lately regarding the status of the general US economy, and maybe even moreso in the tech/software sector. NAASE is not an economic think tank, but we do research current trends. That said, we recently conducted a 1 on 1 interview with Mark Stevenson, the President of Champion Recruiting. Champion focuses on sales and SE’s within the tech industry, and they are a NAASE Corporate Member. You can find them at: .

Mark is located right outside of Silicon Valley, and has filled roles at many California and national tech companies. Champion focuses on only the top 25% of talent that is out there- but truly they seek out and place mostly the top 10% of sales representatives and sales engineers. He calls those the “A” players in the market. Below that are what he refers to as the “B” folks- who still are good at what they do, but they would not be considered the best at their current firms. And below that, all the rest he would deem as the “C” personnel- who are semi-adequate and often times would have the hardest time in finding a new job.

NAASE: What’s the market like out there now? I read of layoffs every other day it seems.

MS: Well, the economy goes in cycles and I have been through several of them. When the economy is bad, and/or when inflation is high (like now), many companies use that as a good time to “trim the fat” per se. A 5%- 10% reduction in headcount across the board is very normal. However, lately I’ve seen several companies cut 20% of their staff. Those are big numbers.

NAASE: Is that because there is less venture capital out there currently?

MS: Well, maybe a little bit. But in the Valley itself, I still think there’s a lot of cash and investment out there floating around. I think the layoffs are more to do with the current state of the overall economy. Less spending… less profits, with higher fixed costs.

NAASE: What do you say to a tech SE that recently got laid off and is now searching? Will they have a harder time finding their next job than they would have a year ago? Any advice?

MS: It all depends. At Champion, we are dealing with all “A” players. Those people are the cream of the crop, and generally they are going to get what they want. They won’t be struggling to find a good job for long. Even in a recession, they are wanted. If you are out of work you need to be honest with yourself. Are you an “A” sales rep or SE? It does no good to kid yourself. 90% of people out there are not; that is just the math. I know that sounds harsh, but I’m trying to give good advice. If you are a B or a C player, you need to leverage your professional (and personal) network to find a decent job, in a tough economy. And that is where we are right now.

NAASE: So, high-level, where do you see things going? When will things turn back around?

MS: I’m certainly no economist, but I work in the market and in the industry every day. And I read the news just like everyone else. Looks like 2 more federal rate hikes, soon. That will further deflate the economy. That said, I think it might get a bit worse, before it gets better. The next “high” wave might be 1-2 years away. So I think we are back in a scenario where the companies have leverage. Over the past couple years (or more) the employees typically had the leverage. Not anymore, in general. So if my boss told me I need to be in the office 4 days a week- I think I’d probably do it and not complain.

NAASE: Thanks Mark. Appreciate the time and the insight. I hope things will be a little better than you detail, but it is good to be prepared either way.

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